The Virtual Assistant industry has boomed in the past few years as traditional work systems and structures have shifted and more and more professionals look to the virtual world for assistance.
Identifying a niche in both the VA and health and wellness industries, Joanna Mitchell established The Healthy VA in 2013. Joanna’s service connects health business owners with reliable virtual support, and provides step by step tutorials on how to setup and manage online business tools efficiently. The main features include the The Healthy VA Community membership, Community Directory and Online Tutorials.
We’ve picked Joanna’s brains on what it’s like to set up in a relatively new industry and how she has built and grown her successful business in the last three years.
What inspired you to start your business?
I recognised a lack of technical and administrative skills in health practitioners and coaches, and found a way to use my previous corporate experience to create a specialised support service for them. By doing this, I had identified an untapped niche. The Healthy VA was originally just myself, as a Virtual Assistant, but within months, demand grew rapidly, which lead to bringing on a team of offshore and onshore VAs. Today, The Healthy VA brings together a ‘community’ of Virtual Assistants/Freelancers and helps to connect them with health business owners needing virtual support, with tasks like social media management, websites, newsletters, lead generation, admin etc.
What is your vision?
My vision for The Healthy VA was to provide a specialised support service for the health & wellness industry throughout Australia, and then taking the business globally. Instead, I have leveraged the success and reputation of The Healthy VA to provide other virtual assistants and freelancers with a platform to connect and work with the industry they love.
What has been your biggest win since starting your business?
Identifying an untapped niche and owning it! As soon as I recognised the unique opportunity, I jumped in head first, defining what virtual support looked like for the industry and spreading awareness of how health businesses can grow and succeed using a virtual team. I became known as the ‘Go-To’ Virtual Assistant for the industry, dominating Google searches for specialised virtual assistance and being featured on various Podcasts, online articles and contributing as a guest mentor for business development courses/programs.
What has been the best piece of advice you have received?
‘Your business is a reflection of you’. Once I was told this, I began to recognise it in The Healthy VA. When I was feeling strong, confident and energised, it showed in the business with an increase in new leads and clients. When I was feeling fatigued, frustrated and overwhelmed, the business suffered too. It reminded me to prioritise my health and happiness, no matter how busy I got.
What has been one of your biggest challenges in business so far? How did you overcome this challenge?
Before reading Michael Gerber’s book ‘E-Myth’, I was trying to be the ‘Manager’, the ‘Technician’ and the ‘Entrepreneur’ all at the same time. Afterwards, I realised, not only could I not be all three, I also needed to be the ‘Entrepreneur’ to keep the business moving forward. The most challenging part was admitting that I actually preferred being the ‘Technician’. As much as this was hard to accept, it helped me evolve the business into what it is today (a membership model), and return to being a sole Freelancer, (consulting other businesses as a ‘Technician’ instead). I overcame this challenge because I listened to what my heart was saying and was willing to evolve.
If you were to start your entrepreneurial adventure again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t do anything differently. I value all the experiences I’ve been through in the last 3 years. As challenging and raw as some may have been, they’ve provided great lessons I’ve grown from.
How do you conquer moments of doubt?
I try to figure out where the doubt is coming from – either a lack of self confidence or an intuitive feeling that something’s not quite right. If it’s self confidence, I remind myself of what I’ve achieved so far and talk it out amongst close friends or mentors. If it’s my intuition, I try to explore the feeling more with Kineseology and meditating.
What book has inspired you the most?
‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ by Susan Jeffers.
What impact has The Entourage and our community had on your business and your life?
I feel like 2 years at the Entourage gave me a crash course in personal development! Not only have I learnt the practical skills in setting up and scaling a business, but I was pushed out of my comfort zone to discover more of who I am, and what my version of success looks like. I resonated with the community because many had the same ‘go-getter’ attitude, that I hadn’t found anywhere else. I loved being surrounded by that at the workshops and when working from the EDC, because it gave me the energy to ‘make shit happen’.